Many of Canada’s immigration programs are run on an Expression of Interest system, in which applicants complete an online profile to qualify for inclusion in an express entry pool. Once your name is in the pool, you can be selected by the federal government, a provincial government or an employer to apply for permanent residence.
Your first step is to complete an online profile, known as an expression of interest, in which you are asked questions relating to your education, work experience, language abilities and other factors. Your answers to these questions will be used to determine your eligibility to immigrate to Canada. If you are deemed eligible, you will be placed in the Express Entry pool.
Once you are in the Express Entry pool, you will be ranked against other candidates on the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS), which allocates up to 1,200 points based on the following factors:
Candidates who have the minimum number of CRS points at the time of the draw are selected to receive an invitation to apply, in the form of a letter. They can then choose to either decline the invitation or start completing their application for permanent residence.
Immigration, Refugees & Citizenship Canada (IRCC) deems receipt of a permanent residence application as acceptance of the invitation. Once your invitation to apply has been issued, you have ninety days in which to submit your application, the relevant application fees, and all supporting documentation.
In many cases, the supporting documentation required can take a long time to acquire. Examples are results of a medical examination and a police clearance certificate. Because the ninety-day time limit is strictly adhered to with few exceptions, IRCC recommends that applicants begin the process of obtaining the supporting documents before they have received the invitation to apply.
When you have submitted your application, IRCC will verify that it contains all of the required elements before beginning to process it. In most cases, the process takes about six months from the time of submission.
If an application for permanent residence is not filed within ninety days of the invitation to apply being issued, the invitation will expire. If you still wish to apply for permanent residence through the Express Entry system, you will have to complete a new expression of interest and wait to be selected from the pool.
It should be noted that even if you have made considerable progress on your application but missed the deadline to submit it, all progress will be lost.
In many cases, candidates who are interested in applying for permanent residence will receive their invitation to apply at an inopportune time. As long as you select the option to decline within the ninety-day period, you will be put back into the Express Entry pool without having submit a new expression of interest. Your chances of being selected for an invitation to apply in the future are not affected by your decision to decline the invitation you have received.